Drug testing begins for amateur golf, pro men lag behind

By Shane Stokes

Although recent scandals and positive cases have shown that doping is a problem in cycling, professional riders have also lamented the fact that this gets an inordinate amount of coverage in the general media while other sports escape the same kind of stories.

The suggestions of unfair treatment come from the fact that cycling has a far tougher system of testing and general scrutiny than many other sports, making positive findings more likely. Indeed it has emerged that the first drug tests in golf took place at last month’s world amateur championships in Stellenbosch, South Africa, with the International Golf Federation selecting twelve players at random. These were then tested by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, with the results coming back negative.

It has now been announced that the Ladies PGA Tour will begin testing in 2008. However both the men’s PGA Tour and the European Tour are currently without any anti-doping measures, despite the huge levels of money in the game. They are talking about following suit at some point in the future but, for now, there is no danger of a top golfer testing positive for the type of strength or concentration-boosting substances which could arguably be of benefit.

Earlier this year, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he saw no need for drug testing in the sport, because he didn't think there were any drugs that could be of benefit to a golfer. However, golf star Tiger Woods was quoted by the Associated Press as being in favor of the regulations. “I think we should be proactive instead of reactive,” he said. “I just think we should be ahead of it and keep our sport as pure as can be. This is a great sport, and it’s always been clean.”

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